Boarding has begun. You look around the airport terminal one last time as the line slowly inches forward. It is as hot and sticky as it was when you first landed here five years ago. The AC has never worked.
It is 1998. Personal email has just become a thing. Facebook has yet to be created. AIM is the way you communicate. You will exchange emails with your friends and promise to visit, but it will never happen. Eventually you will lose touch with the friends that you made. Life goes on after all, and the technology is still evolving. Ten years from now they will find you on Facebook. Their life events will pop up in your newsfeed and you will like their statuses but never full engage.
Twenty years from now, when you are well into adulthood, you will wonder if all this actually happened. Your new friends will reminisce about their childhoods. They will revisit the places they grew up. You will not. The life you had will feel like a dream. Did Sara really bow down in front of the water fountain in the compound? Did you really learn to speak Pidgen for a short time? Did you really have a cook from Benin who made pork buns and pizza for afternoon snacks? Do you really still remember all the words to the national anthem?
You will fall in love with an American. He will listen to your stories and laugh in all the right places. He will nod and smile and ask you for specifics. But that part of your childhood will be foreign to him and you will never sure he can truly understand what it was like.
You will have left part of your heart behind.